I was involved in a vehicle accident which devasted my life. I did not believe I was injured significantly until several days later I began to experience the effects of the accident. I spent the next 13 years of my life totally disabled, in and out of the hospital at least 48 times, each time I spent at least 6 weeks in the hospital. I underwent 9 spinal surgeries, had an IUD that performated my uterus. That in itself was an experience as I was in a catholic hospital. I became addicted to pain medications, had 24/7 home nursing who were administering IV pain analgesics. My fammily was devasted, my children would ask "Is my mommy going to die", I was told I would never walk again, would spend the rest of my life totally disabled, total bed rest, and in and out of hospitals. And I believed all of this for many years-- 13 to be exact. When I saw the physicians, they wrote prescriptions, and more prescriptions. I did not know there was any other way to survive a day. The pain was devasting, I was depressed, could not move about- every step sent sharp, buring pain through my body, my days were ones of waking, showering, and returning to bed to be medicated to sleep thru the day. Then I was given sleeping pills to sleep thru the night. This happened day in and day out. My pain, and dysfunction increased with every breath. I could not hold a conversation as I was so medicated. My eyesight began to fail and I was told to begin to use audio books to read, I would eventually lose the ability to see. There was constant ringing in my ears, at times I could not hear what others were saying as I was in such a haze. With each day I became increasing inable to move-- during one of the hospitalizations one of the nurses informed me it was unlikely I would be able to return home, I needed constant care.
Yes, there was a lot I could do, and I began to do just that. The first thing I did was to be responsible for my own well being, not believing what everyone said was my future. I had to believe in the power of me, what I had in my own abilities. This was not an easy task, although slowly I began the long, difficult journey back to health.
That was 20 years ago-- since that day when I looked at myself, where I was, how dependent I had become on others, I decided this was not life, I was not going to live the predictions of the physicians. I remember asking will the pain every stop, and was told " No Pain No Gain" The journey back to health was painful, frustrating,had many obstacles and difficult is an understatement. I entered a Pain Management program, only to be kicked out because I fought the system and was not ready to give up my pain. Who were they kidding, why would I want to keep this pain. When I was discharged from the program, as I was leaving a peer handed me a book- written by David Bresler PhD, it had PAIN on the cover, all fractured. Like how I felt. What was this book going to do, I read a part of it, and thought this is ridiculous how was any of this going to help. Then I began to use the exercises in the book, I would sit in my rocking chair re-learning how to breath, how to train my body to react to a signal breath, how to manage my stress frustations, that book became the foundation of my recovery. I vowed one day to meet this individual. I began a cold turkey detoxification from all the opiates, but the detox from the Valium was worse. Even step seemed to be more difficult than the next, it took a lot of hard work, and the process was not quick. I decided I wanted to help others not experience what I was, how could this be changed. I went back to school and obtained a degree eventually becoming a specialist in chronic pain. The training I underwent provided me with a stronger understanding of what not should be done in the treatment of pain. I eventually meet David Bresler and did train under him. Today we are friends and consult frequently. Using the knowledge gained from his book and my studies, my own experience, I began to see a pattern. I looked back at my own recovery in hindsight as to how I could of avoided the years of disability. I realized that the passive, fix me attitude of myself and yes some of my physicians which was at the base of my treatment, this is what needed to be changed. I was lucky when I changed to care of a physical medicine and rehabiliation physician, in lieu of an orthopedic, I learned about functional treatment not passive treatment. When I took responsibility for self management of my pain, I return to living. No I am not out of pain, I live in pain daily, although it is no longer the focus of my day. It is there but it no longer rules my life. I am active, productive, do not experience restrictions as a result of my pain. Yes, I underwent mutliple spinal fusions- so maybe lifting that heavy bag, or bending over and putting my hands on the floor, is a little difficult- I am numb on the left side but no one notices unless I am bare foot and you are trained to see the foot drop-- I do wear out one shoe quicker than the other is one of the negatives. This is the affect of my injury today. I have traveled to Egypt gone thru the pyramids, a safari in Africia, cruised the rivers of China,visit Tibet, sure I have to pace myself, wear good walking shoes when traveling, I have made changes, but I have not given up life. I do not use pain medications, and if you ever saw me you would not believe the devastion of the years of disability. Chronic Pain is not terminal unless you believe it is, you have the power to make changes, but that will not occur until you decide you will take on the responsibility of your own recovery from pain.
You do not need to be hopeless and helpless, don't give in, use your anger as a positive to give you the drive to fight off that pain and disabiity. Turn that half empty upside down to be a half full glass, change your attitude from negative, down and out to a positive- visual how you want to once again be, and you will be surprised to see how powerful you really can be.
Try it what do you really have to lose, except the return of your life.
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